CDC Eviction Moratorium Ruled Unconstitutional, Still in Effect

Late on Feb. 25, 2021, Judge J. Campbell Barker of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled, in a 21-page order, that the eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unconstitutional.  Meaning the Federal government does not have the constitutional authority to issue the CDC eviction moratorium. The US Justice Department, attorneys for the CDC, argued that the federal government did have the authority to enact an eviction moratorium through Article 1 of the US Constitution’s power to enact laws necessary and proper to regulate interstate commerce. The Court was not convinced by this argument and ruled against the federal government. The Court did acknowledge that landlord-tenant relationship can be regulated by state law. 

Even though the CDC Eviction Moratorium was ruled unconstitutional, Judge Barker did not issue an injunction stopping the effect of the eviction moratorium. Therefore, the CDC Eviction Moratorium is still in place and effective at the time of this writing. The Justice Department released a statement on Saturday, February 27, 2021 “respectfully” disagreeing with the Court’s decision and further stating that “the [Justice] Department has appealed that decision.”  

NAHRO will continue to monitor the court activity surrounding the CDC Eviction Moratorium and will provide additional updates as warranted. 

FY2021 Capital Fund Grants Released

On February 23, HUD released $2.7 billion to public housing agencies through the Public Housing Capital Fund program, included in the FY 2021 Appropriations Act. FY2021 included $19 million more in Capital Fund formula grants than FY 2020. NAHRO was pleased with the increase in funding as the Capital Fund is critical to ensure PHAs are able to build, renovate, and/or modernize their public housing properties.

HUD’s press release can be found here.

New, Updated Emergency Rental Assistance Guidance Issued

The U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) has released new and updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) that was created by the December 27, 2020 omnibus appropriations act. These new February 22, 2021 dated FAQs replace in their entirety the previously issued January 19, 2021 FAQs.

NAHRO commends Treasury for the new FAQs, as they provide much-needed clear and reasonable guidance on the ERAP. NAHRO has been in contact with Treasury on numerous occasions to ensure that PHAs and their residents are served by the ERAP. On January 25, 2021, NAHRO sent a letter to the Treasury and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development outlining our concerns with the January 19, 2021 FAQs, and the new FAQs address many of NAHRO’s concerns. These new FAQs are a major step forward for PHAs in meeting their COVID-19 housing needs of HUD-assisted residents.  

Below are a number of the key guidance points provided by the February 22, 2021 FAQs:

  • Federally assisted tenants (Public Housing, Housing Choice Voucher, & Project-Based Rental Assistance) are eligible for ERAP assistance for the tenant-owed portion of rent and utilities that are not subsidized. 
  • Tenants may document their financial hardship due to COVID-19 (unemployment benefits, reduction of income, significant costs, or other COVID-19 financial hardship) by written attestation signed by the tenant that one or more household members meet this eligibility criteria. 
  • Tenant household income is defined by using either HUD’s “annual income” definition in 24 CFR 5.609 or adjusted gross income reported on an Internal Revenue Service Form 1040 series. 
  • “Other expenses related to housing” examples are provided. The examples include but are not limited to: 
    • relocation expenses and rental fees (if a household has been temporarily or permanently displaced due to the COVID-19 outbreak);  
    • reasonable accrued late fees (if not included in rental or utility arrears and if incurred due to COVID-19); and  
    • Internet service provided to the rental unit. 
  • Outreach to landlords and utility providers must be done before providing the funds directly to the tenant. Outreach can be done using the following methods: 
    • a request for participation is sent in writing, by mail, to the landlord or utility provider, and the addressee does not respond to the request within 14 calendar days after mailing;  
    • the grantee has made at least three attempts by phone, text, or e-mail over a 10 calendar-day period to request the landlord or utility provider’s participation; or 
    • a landlord confirms in writing that the landlord does not wish to participate. 
  • PHAs, non-profit organizations, and local governments may operate ERAP programs through contractor, subrecipient, or intergovernmental cooperation agreements with the primary grantee at the state or local jurisdiction level. These agreements must meet monitoring and management requirements of 2 CFR 200.331-200.333 and procurement standards of 2 CFR 200.317-200.327. 

These are just a few of the answers in the new FAQs. The full FAQs are available on the NAHRO website’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program page. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program, including these FAQs, will be a focus of the 2021 NAHRO Online Washington Conference’s Treasury Affordable Housing Program and Washington Report sessions on March 2, 2021. Click here to register for the 2021 NAHRO Online Washington Conference

NAHRO & NLC Webinar on Eviction Prevention and Emergency Rental Assistance Program – Feb 18 @ 12:30pm ET

NAHRO and the National League of Cities are teaming up to bring their members critical information on eviction prevention strategies and the Treasury Department’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The complimentary webinar will take place on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 12:30 pm ET. Registration information can be found here.

The webinar will also discuss the upcoming reconciliation process the new COVID-19 relief package will take through Congress, as well as an overview of eviction prevention strategies cities and community partners are implementing in the midst of COVID-19, and highlights of resources to prevent housing instability.

Information on ERAP is changing rapidly, and it is important for PHAs that want to partner with their State and/or local jurisdiction to be up to date. Join the NAHRO and NLC teams to hear the latest information on ERAP, including information on family eligibility and eligible use, along with an update on how the new administration plans on implementing the program. We will also be joined by a PHA that will share how their housing authority has partnered with the local jurisdiction to provide local emergency rental assistance.

The NARHO and NLC teams look forward to sharing this important information! Register Now for the important webinar.

HUD Memo on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

On February 11, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) released a memo implementing President Biden’s Executive Order on preventing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Executive Order directs federal agencies to assess agency actions taken under federal statutes that prohibit sex discrimination and fully enforce those statutes to include prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result of the Executive Order, FHEO will begin accepting for filing and investigating all complaints of sex discrimination including sexual orientation and gender identity. FHEO will also conduct all other activities involving the application, interpretation, and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination to include discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. The memo also impacts state and local agencies that enter agreements with HUD under the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) and the Fair Housing Initiative Program.

Notice on HCV Financial Reporting Requirements

In late-Jan., HUD published a notice titled “Financial Reporting Requirements for the Housing Choice Voucher and Mainstream Voucher Program Submitted through the Financial Assessment Subsystem for Public Housing (FASS-PH) and the Voucher Management System (VMS)” (PIH 2021-08). The notice details the requirement for submitting year-end financial information and submitting leasing and cost information through VMS.

There are certain entity-wide reporting requirements for entities with HCV programs and certain other financial reporting requirements. It states that for PHAs with both a public housing program and HCV program, entity-wide information should be submitted through the FASS-PH system. For PHAs that only have HCV programs, the notice provides alternative requirements, depending on whether the PHA with the HCV program is a stand-alone reporting entity; a part of a non-profit agency or non-general-purpose government entity; or part of a larger general-purpose government entity. Certain general-purpose government entities may also be required to procure independent public accountant services for financial and compliance procedures. The Department also requires that the financial data schedule (FDS) be issued as supplementary information to the financial statements.

Housing agencies with HCV programs are required to submit financial statements based on their fiscal year-end date. For those agencies that have a different fiscal year-end dated (based on the larger government entity’s or the larger non-profit’s fiscal year-end date), the notice provides information to align their organization’s fiscal year-end date with HUD’s systems.

The notice provides information on certain other topics. The notice provides information on the financial data schedule due dates depending on the agency’s fiscal year end. The notice also provides information on times when it is appropriate to request a FASS waiver or extension and the process to do so. There is also information on the programs that are required to reported in the financial data schedule (including CARES Act funding). There is also very basic information on the deadlines for VMS data entry. Finally, the notice provides information about non-compliance with HUD requirements and information on the possible administrative fee sanctions.

The full notice can be found here.

Continuum of Care Grants Awarded

HUD has awarded $2.5 billion in Continuum of Care (CoC) grants to support 6,597 local homeless assistance programs across the nation. This funding renews grants for existing programs. Due to the pandemic, grants were renewed through a dramatically streamlined process. HUD’s CoC program supports a broad array of interventions designed to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness, particularly those living in places not meant for habitation, located in shelter programs, or at imminent risk of experiencing homelessness. HUD’s press release can be found here.

HHS Extends CDC Eviction Moratorium to March 31

Earlier today, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department made available a pre-publication copy of an order extending the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) eviction moratorium. The eviction moratorium has been extended to March 31, 2021. Additionally, the order now also applies to American Samoa–although it had not previously–because COVID-19 cases have now been reported there.

NAHRO members will receive additional information on this order.

A pre-publication copy of the order can be found here.

Clean Air For All Webinar on Resident Engagement

Tomorrow, January 27 from 1-2:00 pm CT, Zoom

Clean Air for All invites you to join us for an upcoming webinar- Working Together: Resident Engagement during (and after) the Pandemic. We will discuss ways to engage residents in a building’s smoke-free policy and cessation efforts, both remotely and in person.

Webinar Objectives
· Highlight successful resident engagement efforts that have occurred at PHAs
· Outline strategies to help PHAs keep residents engaged both in person and remotely
· Describe resources available for resident engagement

Speakers
–    Mr. Georgi Banna, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
–    Ms. Lorraine Lathen, Jump at the Sun Consultants, Wisconsin African American Tobacco Control Network
–    Mr. Ernest Watts, Robeson County Health Department, North Carolina
–    Kara Skahen, Clean Air for All: The Smoke-Free Public Housing Project

Register here!